CHARLEE (Children Have All Rights: Legal, Educational and Emotional) is a private not-for-profit agency that cares for children ages 0-23 years old in Miami-Dade County who have been placed in foster care due to abuse, abandonment and neglect or are at risk of being placed in foster care. For the past 28 years, CHARLEE has helped thousands of children in the foster care system begin a new life.
For the past three years, I have produced fund-raising videos for CHARLEE Homes for Children and have gotten to know the dedicated people behind the vital services they provide to the South Florida community. With a committed staff of over 150 employees and a core of dedicated volunteers and interns, CHARLEE has served thousands of children in Miami-Dade’s foster care system. Throughout the years, they have expanded their programs and services to meet the needs of the many children in their care.
Here are just three examples of the types of services they provide…
CHARLEE’s mission is to provide exceptional services to abused, abandoned, and neglected children. One of the ways they achieve that goal is by educating prospective parents through the Parenting Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) program which is designed to strengthen the quality of family foster care and adoption services. Through the program, CHARLEE has been able to finalize close to 100 adoptions each year.
INDEPENDENT LIVING PROGRAM
Most youth learn the skills needed to live independently through their parents, guardians and/or extended family. Unfortunately, many youth in foster care do not have the opportunity to learn these skills at home either because they are moving from placement to placement or they are living in a large institutional facility where these skills are not stressed. Ultimately, the experience of life in foster care combined with the added stress of being unprepared for independent living has a multitude of negative implications for these youth. The CHARLEE life skills training curriculum consists of bi-weekly workshops for youth between the ages of 13 and 17. These workshops focus on the tools necessary for our children to achieve self-sufficiency and independence.
Research shows that a child is better poised to succeed in life when he or she is able to thrive within the original family, as opposed to entering into foster care. Keeping that in mind, the goal at CHARLEE is to provide families with all the necessary tools to provide a healthy and happy environment for the child. At CHARLEE, they always seek to achieve permanency for the children in their care by reuniting them with their biological parents. In the case of Tondaleeia, that included helping her overcome her 17 year drug addiction.
For more information, visit www.charlee.org. And whether you live in South Florida or in another part of the country, get to know more about the foster care/adoption organizations in your area – and get involved. Nationwide, there are close to half a million children living in foster care. 20,000 of these youth emancipate or “age out” of the foster care system, and are discharged from the system, whether or not they
are prepared to transition to adulthood. Moreover, 25% of former foster youth will be incarcerated within the first 2 years of emancipation.
Surely, there’s a little something we all can do to make a difference in the lives of these children and their families…
Don’t you think?